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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

Background on the towns and this project is available under the about tab above.

Click here for bios of the reporters and media producers who have worked on the series.

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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- For some unfathomable reason, Benigno’s bar in the historic heart of this town went almost untouched by Katrina. The owners cleaned up the mess from a couple inches of flood water, hired all new staff and came back on line on Oct. 20.

As the only watering hole open in town, it is doing roaring business, eclipsing pre-storm business in spite of being forced to close for the 9 p.m. curfew each night. Clouds of cigarette smoke hang over the billiards tables and dart board, while thrash rock and country ballads drown out conversation.

“After the storm they serve probably about 50 times more than they served at this bar (before the storm), because nobody has nothing else to do,” says bartender Gwen Krost, who came to work here after it reopened.

One local tells me Benigno’s used to serve strictly as a last stop on a long night out and has never seen it so busy. But visiting insurance adjustor Eric Braunsdorf says he’s seen something exactly like it before -- after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

Not only do more locals belly up to the bar, but so do many of the contractors, adjusters and relief workers -- people whose careers revolve around rebuilding stricken areas.

Says Braunsdorf: “When the first bar reopens, I run into all the same people I met in the last disaster.”

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I am so glad that Benigno's survived they have the best shrimp PoBoy EVER!

My Grandfather at 85+ years of age loves the shrimp and oyster poboys, I wish you could ship to California

The bars in Bay St. Louis and Waveland aren't solely about booze; they are gathering places where everybody knows your name." We have lost all the other gathering pubs: The Good Life, Fire Dog.and Big Daddy's in the Bay and The Pier, Ricky's, The Rairoad Bar,in Waveland.

As a regular in the lost Good Life, I have been to Beningno's to hear local news, find out about friends, hear the stories of survival, see friends that I didn't know if they survived. We all exchange information about insurance, FEMA, rebuilding, and other aspects of our communities that do not appear on CNN.

Most importantly, we give and get hugs. It's a chance to tell old friends that I am glad they are alive! Finally, buying a round of beers for some military guys was my way of thanking them for being here and making me feel a lot safer.

I miss the goodlife immensely and am concerned about the staff as well as the future of the establishment. If anyone knows how Donna, Tammy ,Ernie, Jimmy, Todd are, please contact me. we too miss our home and way of life & hope to return once the insurance company gives us a definitive answer.

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